ABSTRACT

Team discussions can be supported in various ways, meaning that the facilitator has different options in how to fulfil their tasks. The first choice is between a directive and a laissez-faire approach to guiding the pattern of interaction. The directive style is more effective when there is asymmetry of information within the team, that is, when there is unshared information. Sharing privately held information may be crucial to identify the best option forward, but team members may not be aware of its relevance. A facilitator may help a group to reveal the full set of information by paying attention to different phases in group discussion. Successful teams tend to break their process into two broad phases that can be cycled many times through their discussions. In the divergence phase, team members either search for possible issues or solutions. In the convergence phase, they select either the core issue or problem to address or the best solution to adopt. A facilitator can support these phases by, for instance, encouraging an open search for information. In divergence, this comes down to avoiding criticism of contributions; in convergence, it also entails checking the format of contributions (e.g. concepts or relations).